by Felicia Wilks, assistant head of school/Upper School director
Dear Parents and Guardians of Lakeside Upper School Students,
Welcome to the 2019-2020 academic year! Whether you are new to the Lakeside community, or you have been a part of the community for many years, I hope you and your students are as eager to begin the year as I am.
This is an exciting time to be at Lakeside. Our centennial year is an opportunity to reflect on Lakeside’s first 100 years as well as look ahead to Lakeside’s future and determine how to continue the school’s legacy of excellence. We will be celebrating as a community throughout the year, and I hope you will join us at some of the special centennial events.
I’ve been thinking this summer about how education is a journey of discovery. Students at Lakeside – as well as their teachers – are constantly engaging with new concepts, perspectives, and approaches. This willing engagement with new ideas has been a hallmark of Lakeside’s first 100 years and has become crucial to success in our rapidly changing world.
I see our students considering a diversity of perspectives on a daily basis, both in their classes and in casual conversations with their peers and adults on campus. Exposing students to this kind of diversity allows them to develop their own ideas and beliefs. Being challenged by an idea that runs counter to a student’s own thinking is a valuable learning opportunity. The ability to hold true to your values while remaining open to new ideas can take a lifetime to master. Among the skills that help us walk this line are replacing judgment with inquiry; listening to learn; resisting the urge to make assumptions; recognizing the difference between feeling uncomfortable and unsafe; and regularly reflecting on what you believe and why.
Our faculty and staff are committed to helping students develop these skills. And the backdrop of local, statewide, and national elections will create a natural opportunity to practice them. Lakeside’s commitment to diversity means we are a collection of individuals who don’t always see things the same way – and that is a strength of our community! Working in partnership, faculty, staff, and parents and guardians can help students develop these skills, push their thinking toward greater complexity, and consider how they can have an impact both locally and nationally.
Balancing Lakeside’s commitment to diversity with our commitment to our mission requires constant attention, compassion, and grace. We have an important tool to guide us in this work: Lakeside’s Statement of Community Expectations. At its heart, the statement expresses what it means to live in a community animated by the principles of consideration, integrity, and inclusion. A copy of the Statement of Community Expectations will be mailed home later this month. I encourage you to read it (even if you have read it many times before) and discuss it with your students. Your commitment to and engagement with Lakeside’s mission and community expectations will support students as they work every day to contribute to a strong and healthy community where each individual feels known and valued.
In addition to marking Lakeside’s history and imagining its future, the coming academic year will give us many opportunities to partner, with the goal of supporting and celebrating our students. I look forward to seeing you and your students in the coming weeks!
Assistant Head of School/Upper School Director